PRINCETON, NJ – While State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3, and other Democrats publicly called out their Republican colleagues Monday for not overriding Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of a bill that would give police an opportunity to comment before expunging a person’s record, a vote in both houses is unlikely.
“No one is going to hide,” Sweeney said, flanked by other Senate Democrats including Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14 and Sen. Shirley Turner, D-15, among others at a press conference in Hinds Plaza.
Sweeney said he is calling the senate into a special session Oct. 22 in order to vote on the override for bill S-2360 a second time. A previous vote in September failed.
The senate president said that he would use state police “to go and get” senators not attending the vote.
Despite the warning and plea for senators to come in and support what would be the first override of a Christie veto, Republican sources this week said the state assembly will not likely call a special session.
The assembly and senate officially adjourned in June and are not scheduled to go back into session until after the November election, sources said.
According to the state constitution, adopted in 1947, both houses must vote to override a governor’s veto by a two-thirds majority.
That takes 30 votes in the senate and 60 in the assembly, according to that document.
S-2360 would allow law enforcement to comment when a person with a mental illness history applies to the court to have that record expunged, a requirement in order for that person to purchase a firearm.
Sweeney said that it was law enforcement and the courts that asked for the legislation in order to share information with a judge making that determination.
He said Monday that such a mechanism currently does not exist.
“You would think that it does,” Sweeney said. “But it doesn’t.”
The bill unanimously passed both houses and was co-sponsored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-16, representing both South Brunswick and Princeton.
Gov. Christie, however, conditionally vetoed the measure in August saying it was part of a “patchwork” of solutions to a problem that needs comprehensive reform.
According to his conditional veto, Christie wants the law to do more and enact provisions for people adjudged to be “dangerous” to themselves and others to voluntarily be committed for treatment, or, in some cases, involuntarily committed to get treatment for their mental illness.
Legislators, who only have 45 days to override the veto, have so far dismissed the governor’s remedy.
Bateman, Sweeney said, abstained from the September vote to override Christie’s conditional veto and the reason for holding the press conference in Princeton was because it was in Bateman’s district.
Sweeney said he invited Bateman to the conference, however, Republican sources reported that the GOP senator was actually out of the state.
The other GOP assembly members from the district, Jack Ciatarelli and Donna Simon were not available for comment on the issue.
Their two Democratic opponents in the November election, Andrew Zwicker and Maureen Vella, spoke during the conference and called on the Republicans to support the bill.
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